I was fuming to my hubby Bill yesterday. A certain person I love who also at times drives me crazy was driving me crazy.
My anger was justified, Bill assured me. This person’s behavior was completely outrageous, thoughtless, and selfish.
That’s the good thing about being half of a long-married couple; your partner always knows when you need validation and I needed it badly.
I vented for fully 10 or 15 minutes, non-stop, then I ran out of gas.
My tirade, I realized, did not affect the person my anger was directed at in the least. This person did not even know I was irate.
It had boomeranged back and was zinging me. And Bill. I have told myself a million times to not get angry at the person in question, but emotions are often stronger than thoughts and I wind up feeling exasperated.
Anger isn’t always a bad thing. When I was a school teacher, I acted as though I was irritated with students sometimes to get them to change their behavior. If they cheated on a test, for example, I responded angrily; if they behaved in an unsafe way or were mean to their peers, I let them know I was displeased.
But yesterday’s anger threatened to fester and morph into bitterness. It was not the constructive, everything’s-under-control kind of anger I used effectively at school; it was the sharp, acidic kind that slowly eats your heart from the inside. It was like this quote from Felice Dunas:
“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Anger usually stems from hurt, but when you hold on to anger, the only person who continues to be hurt is you. Or, in this case, me.
I don’t believe we should suppress anger, but we do need to be able to express it, then let go and move on.
Stepping back and counting to ten (or ten thousand) allows us to gain perspective and address the situation in a calmer manner, rather than acting rashly in the heat of the moment.
Deciding whether to make changes in your relationship with the target of your anger or accept the current circumstances allows you to take action, which gives you a feeling of control and can lead to less anger.
You may elect to limit or even eliminate your exposure to the one who causes your anger to surface.
Ultimately, the way to stop being angry is to forgive the person who wronged you, even if that person did not ask for or even deserve forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t a gift for them it’s for you. Forgiveness allows you to move on, leaving the anger behind.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. – Ephesians 4:31
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