In Anger Pt. 1, I shared how God has given us the emotion of anger. I also shared that God has the emotion and doesn’t sin. I began the thought of how anger is a secondary emotion therefore there has to be primary emotions. What are those primary emotions? How can we decipher those emotions from the anger that we feel builds up in us?
There are at least four primary emotions that fuel our anger. Some people add a fifth, but let’s get that one out of the way early. Some people add Fatigue as a primary emotion for anger. The problem with that is that everyone gets tired at times and if something goes wrong or someone crosses them anger arises even if the person normally is not an angry person. I am not discounting fatigue as something that can fuel anger. I am saying that fatigue can become the scapegoat when one of the other primary emotions needs to be dealt with.
Primary Emotion #1: Hurt. Hurt is a primary emotion from your past. Hurt can be caused by any form of rejection or betrayal. This hurt can be from anyone of significance in your life. Many people think that something that happened many years cannot be controlling their emotions now, but they are wrong. If we do not recognize and acknowledge the hurt and the pain from certain rejections from the past, our past will continue to “haunt” us. When someone treats us in a similar way as what happened to us in the past, we can react with anger as those past emotions well up within us.
Primary Emotion #2: Fear. Fear is a primary emotion of the future. Most fear is driven from the unknown. Why are people afraid of the dark? Mainly, it is because they do not know what is in the room or in the shadows. Their imagination can tell them many things are in the dark. That person does not know for sure what is going to happen. Probably nothing will happen. Many people will transfer the fear into anger for protection. They want to protect themselves, not because they know something bad is going to happen but rather they fear something bad will happen.
Primary Emotion #3: Frustration. Others have used the word helplessness or a sense of inadequacy. Frustration covers both of those emotions. This emotion has to do with a current situation. Mostly, it deals with a sense of lack of control. Let’s face it, we want to be in control. I have met very few people who do not want to be in control of their circumstances. When people drive in a fashion that is different than what we want them to, we get angry. When our children do not do what we want them to, we get angry. Our financial situation might be bleak and we react with anger. You see, when we want to be in control or maybe in a better situation, we might ultimately feel helpless or inadequate but we react in anger.
Primary Emotion #4: Guilt. I think that each one of us will recognize ourselves in this emotion. We have done something wrong and when we are approached about it, we react in anger to dispel our own guilt. Do I need to say more here? I think you get it.
What do we do with this information? Here are a couple of steps to take in order to handle anger properly with the people closest to you. Your family happens to be the brunt of your anger most of the time.
- Think first instead of feel first. What is the goal of your anger? What is motivating your anger?
- Take a “time out” for yourself. In your time-out, you want to do something that will eliminate the tension and stress of the situation. You also want to pray for God’s wisdom and grace to respond in His ways. (The time-out needs to be at least 20 minutes but less than 40 minutes.)
- Take ownership of your anger. It is your choice, not someone else’s behavior or your circumstances that is causing your anger.
- Talk in a way that will build up and not tear down.
- Use “I” statements.
- Keep Eye Contact.
- Share emotions.
- Share needs.
- Ask for forgiveness of your wrong actions.
Ephesians 4:26-27 (ESV)
26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
27 and give no opportunity to the devil.
Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Anger is one of the most destructive emotions we will ever experience. If we allow it to control us, we will hurt and tear down every relationship we have. If we learn to handle our emotion in a Godly manner, we will be able to display God’s grace and mercy to all that are around us.