Things break. People disappoint. Decisions get made without our input and we feel left out. Frustration mounts. Anger rises, and tempers flare, and we act in anger. Is it possible to be good, and also be angry? Maybe, but those who try usually end up regretting the attempt.
We all get mad at some point because it's a natural reaction. Anger is standard equipment on every human, and it doesn't take long for us to learn to express it. But, how we express it can say a lot about us.
Let me be clear: expressing anger rashly, without knowing all the facts, or caring about its effect on those around us is immature, and certain to exacerbate the situation.
So, here are a few thoughts on how to be good and angry, instead of merely angry:
1. Recognize acting impulsively rarely brings about a good result: Think back to the last time you acted rashly out of anger. Did it solve the problem? No, and you probably didn't feel so good about it either. If solving the problem is the goal, acting in anger is probably the worst way to reach it.
2. Understand how foolish you will look if you get mad without getting all the facts: Remember Roseann Rosannadanna of Saturday Night Live fame? She would get all up in our faces about some issue only to find out she had completely misunderstood the situation. Her famous line, after thoroughly embarrassing herself was simply "never mind."
I have too often learned the hard lesson that the first information is hardly ever the best information, nor is it usually complete information. If you hear something that makes you mad, be sure you get all the facts before going off. You'll be glad you did!
3. To get the information you may be missing, use three simple words: "Help me understand": I have found it extremely useful to assume my perception may not be trustworthy. So, when I hear about something that begins to make me mad, it has helped to approach those involved with these words: "Help me understand why you did such and such? or Help me understand what you were trying to accomplish? or "Help me understand your thoughts on what actually happened?" Hearing and understanding various perceptions and accounts and reasons often helps complete the picture.
4. Think carefully and clearly before going off: If, after getting all the information, you still think an angry response is warranted, be careful with the words you use. Think clearly about the emotional baggage your words will carry, and how they will hit the heart of those you're aiming at. Choose your timing carefully, and focus on what you're actually trying to achieve.
5. Understand words spoken in anger are rarely received as beneficial: Regardless of how well you communicate, your anger will be the primary message. Anger is an isolating emotion. By nature it pushes people away. We all instinctively recognize anger as a possible precursor to violence. Anger never facilitates relationship. It may move people to action, but out of fear not respect. The fact is, anger - no matter how carefully crafted - is never the best way to solve a problem. Thus, #6:
6. Resolve simply never to respond, act, or communicate if anger is your primary emotion: We all get angry. And we can point to situations where acting in anger feels good, and allows us an immediate feeling of superiority. But just because we can get anger, and can act in anger doesn't mean we should. The simple truth is anger masquerades as a solution while actually being the cause of still more problems.
We need to follow Paul's advice in Ephesians 4:31: " Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice."
But why? Why must we consider anger something to be put away? James the Apostle gives us the answer: But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God (James 1:19,20).
If you desire to follow Christ closely, anger can't be your "go to" response. It turns out we really can't be good, and still be angry.