Saturday, June 16, 2012

Use Anger Creatively

Andrew Lester's book The Angry Christian is an outstanding book about anger. He argues that anger is a gift from God, not a sin. Anger helps us recognize when something is wrong. In fact, it can be a sin to not be angry. It should make us angry when children are bullied, drunk people drive recklessly, African Americans are oppressed, etc. Being angry indicates that we care about life. We want things to get better. We want to see transformation. And we want to work to bring about positive change. Therefore anger is a sign of love. But the way we use anger can either be a weapon of war or a tool of love. The following steps describe ways to creatively use anger as a tool instead of a weapon:

1. Recognize the anger. Sensitize yourself to the behaviors and thought patterns that indicate anger.

2. Acknowledge the anger. You are probably feeling angry because your sense of self, love, justice, safety, values, ethics, beliefs, etc. have been threatened or challenged.

3. Control your body during anger. But don’t suppress the emotion. Accept your body’s physiological response to anger mindfully so that you can choose the best way to handle the situation. Remember that your body is a tool, not a master.

4. Diagnose the anger. Why are your angry? What was the anger about? Who are you angry with? What’s wrong? Which of your beliefs or values have been challenged? How has your sense of self or safety been threatened? What injustice do you see or experience?

5. Discern if anger is necessary or appropriate. Evaluate the situation. Determinate whether there has been a real threat to your sense of self, love, justice, safety, values, beliefs, etc. Is the anger worthy of your time and energy?

6. Transform your mindset, if necessary. If the anger isn’t necessary or appropriate, then establish new ways of looking at the situation and handling your emotional response. Mindfully explore the function of the emotional response and how you’d like to respond in the future. Also attempt to understand the risks of unnecessary anger and the benefits of alternative interpretations.

7. Take responsibility. Ensure that your response to anger is mindful and respectful, not impulsive and dominating. Also be sure that your response is effective and constructive, not fruitless and harmful.

8. Take action. Express your anger creatively. How can your anger be used as a tool for healing, change, and transformation? How can anger be used to promote love, safety, and justice? What is the most beneficial action you can take? Who do you need to speak with? Who can you confide in? Who can give you wise advice? What can you do to bring about positive change in the situation?

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