I heard it said that anger results when we are denied a perceived right. In other words, we expect to be treated in a certain way or to have things fall into a certain order and consequently become angry when they do not.
This applies to dealing with a customer at work, getting along with family members, or trying to take apart a stubborn food mill (as I did last night and just about threw across the room). Anger matches the degree to which expectations are not met and one’s mood permits.
I’m not in the clear when it comes to dealing with anger, but I have received sound advice that has helped and have learned some lessons that I’m willing to pass along as a work in progress, not as the expert. Whenever I sense anger taking over, I try to do the following:
- Keep my lips sealed. Whatever I say in anger, I almost always regret, not matter how righteous it seemed at the time. Give it at least a day if possible to see if it really is worth bringing up to someone. Bearing grudges is a whole other matter (the whole, don’t let the sun go down on your anger bit).
- Identify why I’m angry. This is not easy. There could be ten little aggravations that set me off when there really are one or two things at the root of my anger.
- Look for perspective. If I can find the root of my anger, it often helps to put it in perspective by thinking of just how much this affects my life and the lives of others. The end result: I find that the root of my anger isn’t as big a deal as originally thought.
- Pray for the people I’m angry at. Whether or not my anger is justified, praying for (or at least wishing good will toward them!) is a positive step that removes me from my inward gaze and leads me to a concern for others, even if I don’t like them this is an almost guaranteed way to defeat anger. Hat tip to my wife for teaching me this!
I could list other ways of dealing with anger, such as secretly calling people names or making jokes out of difficult situations, but they probably aren’t as helpful as the four tips listed above. They’re fun, but not as useful.