Anger properly channeled and controlled is a good thing —a God-given thing. Like a gas flame on the stove, anger is not inherently destructive. It’s a legitimate emotion that has a legitimate function. But it can be helpful or harmful, depending on how we use it. If we don’t learn how to process and express it in healthy ways, the results can be ruinous.
Aristotle said it well:
“Anyone can become angry —that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way—that is not easy.”
One tried-and-true strategy for working with anger is what we call the Triple P Method. It’s a helpful way to remain calm when you feel as though your anger is escalating to potentially dangerous level. The Triple P Method stands for three action steps: Pause. Ponder. Pray.
The first step is to deliberately stop, breathe deeply, and allow that boiling energy to drain away. Buy yourself some time. This lets your body and emotions cool down before you take action. You may even want to take a break and get away from whatever situation might be triggering your anger.
Have you ever noticed that the angrier we feel, the dumber we get? It’s not only a perception; it’s a proven fact. Anger reduces the oxygen to the brain, and our thinking gets foggy. When we’re angry, we do ourselves a favor to pause, disengage from whatever might be fueling our fire, and calm ourselves down.
Seeking a Release
With emotional pressure building and swirling at high speed, the internal energy will be seeking a release. If we don’t purposely open a release valve and let some of it out, we can become like a pressure cooker on the verge of exploding. But if we pause, we give ourselves a chance to let go of some of this pent-up energy.
The following list has some good ideas for discharging inner tension… before it explodes!
Here are seven ways to trigger a calm response:
1. Take in a deep breath, count to five, then slowly let it out, and relax. (Old advice, but it works!)
2. Tune in to your body and deliberately relax whatever is tense.
3. Walk around the room and shake out the tension.
4. Get a drink of water.
5. Lean back in your chair in a relaxed fashion.
6. Massage the back of your neck and shoulders.
7. Warm a heating pad and place it on your shoulders or lower back.
Anger doesn’t have to escalate. We can choose cool words over hot words when we talk to ourselves abut what might be bothering us or driving our feelings of frustration. Self-awareness is an important key to managing anger because it allows us to monitor our tension and effectively release it. People who are skilled in managing their anger do this almost intuitively. They have a keen awareness of what is bothering them, and purposely turn down the heat on their anger so that it doesn’t’ burn them or boil over one others.
This has tremendous power to reduce tension and help us cope in the heat of the moment. Even hot anger doesn’t have to boil over. Cool words can keep our anger in check and prevent us from fueling fires that harm ourselves or others.
COOL WORDS TO USE WHEN YOU’RE ANGRY:
• Getting angry won’t get me what I want in the long run.
• Think straight. Keep focused. Stay positive.
• Keep reason and respect number one.
• Don’t blame. Look for solutions.
• This situation isn’t worth a coronary.
• This problem is annoying, but it doesn’t have to be a big deal.
• I don’t have to take this personally.
• What seems so important today won’t seem so a few months from now.
• I can pick my fights and save my energy for more important issues.
• When the time is right, talk slow… talk soft.
When we talk to God about our wounds and our anger, we do so for our sake, not His. He already knows the secrets of our heart. I’m not talking abut prayers consisting of fancy, pious, religious words. I’m talking abut authentically sharing our thoughts and feelings with God, as we would with our safest and most trusted friend. Some of the best prayers have more feelings than words. Whispers in the dark, cries from a lonely heart, sighs of confusion, and fumbling utterances offered to God will find their way to His ears, and He will answer.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how, or what, to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves.(Romans 8:26-27, The Message)
David, author of many of the psalms, mastered the art of venting his anger in prayer. I love his bold honesty with God:
My enemies shout at me, making loud and wicked threats. They bring trouble on me, hunting me down in their anger… Destroy them, Lord, and confuse their speech, for I see violence and strife… Let death seize my enemies by surprise; let the grave swallow them alive, for evil makes its home within them… I will call on God, and the LORD will rescue me. Morning, noon, and night I plead aloud in my distress, and the LORD hears my voice. He rescues me and keeps me safe from the battle waged against me, even though many still oppose me… Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. (Psalm 55:3, 9, 15-18, 22, NLT)
Rather than taking matters into his hands, David dumped his anger into God’s lap, or as it says in The Message, he piled his troubles on God’s shoulders (Psalm 55:22). He asked God to take up his cause and bring revenge. His example challenges us. When we are angry, we feel a natural compulsion to act fast. We are driven to “set things straight” and balance the scales. It’s basic human nature to want to reestablish justice in an unfair situation. Rather than depending on God, we take over. Our sense of justice screams, “If anything is going to be made right, I have to make it happen!”
Leave Revenge to God
The ways of the world are very different from the ways of God. We are advised to leave the how and when of revenge to God. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil… Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good“ (Romans 12:17, 19, 21). Someone once said, “He who seeks revenge digs two graves.”
Justice will reign. God will initiate it, and God will complete it. He will either do it now, or He will do it later. It is God’s promise to us. God is our avenger, right now, this very moment. Jesus stands today in the Father’s presence as our Advocate. “We have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One“ (1 John 2:1). The Holy Spirit is alongside us like legal counsel in a court case, representing us and fighting for our best interests: “The Spirit Himself intercedes for us” (Romans 8:26).
Talking to God
I have talked often with God about these truths during difficult time in my life. Prayers based on these ideas have tempered my anger over setbacks and losses, reminding me of the bigger picture. Ultimately there is no situation in life that can defeat us because of who God is in us. He is greater than what assails us. He is more powerful than those who wound us. His plans and purposes for our life cannot be thwarted by anyone or anything, no matter how black things may seem.
Surrender to God
Every pain, every sorrow, every ounce of anger surrendered to God will not be wasted. He takes it all-the good, the bad, the outrageously unfair—and puts a positive spin on it so that it ultimately works for our eternal good. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them“ (Romans 8:28, NLT).
This article comes from the book, The Wounded Woman: Hope and Healing for Those Who Hurt, written by Dr Steve Stephens and Pam Vredevelt, published by Multnomah Publishers. There was a lot more that we wish we could include in this article on this subject including how to “Renounce Replays and Revenge” and reviewing several steps to help you experience the freedom of forgiveness, plus other helpful bits of wisdom so we encourage you to obtain this book wherever it is sold or through their web site.
This is a good book for women filled who are finding it difficult to cope with some of the tragedies that plague them. It offers you the pathway to regain your footing, restart your life, recover your energy, and reclaim your joy. Contained within its pages are real-life testimonies that will guide you toward recovery and inspire you to press forward in newfound strength-not in spite of your wounds but because of them.
As Dr Stephens says,
“We cannot change the past. What has occurred—with all of its hurt, injustice, cruelty, disappointment, and tragedy —has slipped into history, beyond our control. Even so, we can change how we view the painful realities that have touched our life and what we say to ourselves about those realities.” The mission of this book is to help you move forward as you work through your pain, “reminding you that there is hope that you are not alone. God never promised to keep us from wounds, but He did promise to be with us and to help us heal.”
Excerpted from The Wounded Woman © 2006 by Dr. Steve Stephens and Pam Vredevelt. Used by permission of Multnomah Publishers, Inc. Excerpt may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of Multnomah Publishers, Inc.