In my counseling practice, I hear lots of folks who sheepishly explain what started the last argument that escalated into full blown anger. After the fact, they realize that mundane things like leaving on the lights, failing to pick up clothes off the floor, or forgetting to run an errand are not really huge deals in the big picture, but those kinds of events led to huge, ugly memories and hurt that put a serious ding on important relationships.
Anger is among the most destructive of all emotions, because once it’s ignited, it may be hard to rein it in. Simply put, it is a relationship killer. Words are spoken that can’t be taken back; objects are thrown; prized possessions are broken; and sadly, at times blows or slaps are delivered, all in a fit of anger. It happens a lot, and I would say it happens too often. So I suggest premeditated anger is the solution. In other words, plan ahead of time what you will get angry about.
There is a place and time for anger, so think about what you should get angry about. Some of these things might be seeing a child or animal get mistreated, seeing someone steal, or hearing of some other sort of injustice. That kind of anger can lead to action and healthy change. Now think about the things you see others get angry about (because I’m sure you don’t have any issues), and evaluate whether those situations or challenges merit getting angry. What about a careless driver who isn’t paying close enough attention? Or how about traffic that’s at a standstill, or a supermarket checkout line that’s not moving fast enough? What about fans at a sporting event who aren’t happy with the result of a play or official’s call? How about a family member’s penchant for not putting objects back where they “belong”?
I would guess that for most people anger happens at home, not at work or school, because if it came out in those arenas, it would come with a price. Let that last sentence sink in fully. Many people have bought the lie straight from the Father of all Lies that our anger at home is permissible, or at least excusable. The price for it in our homes is far greater than any we might display outside our homes.
So, the first step in slaying the dragon is to think about what you will get angry about. Premeditated anger is definitely the way to go. If you need some help in this area, perhaps we can talk.
Rev. Greg Griffin is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and Forgiveness Coach in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.