We asked a professional to give us further wisdom & thoughts for this sermon series called Simplify: feel better inside. And she has delivered! We hope you can benefit from reading and then applying in your life – so you can feel better inside.
Melissa Baratta is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) with over 20 years of experience.
Anger gets a bad rap.
Too frequently we focus on the need to eliminate the experience of anger as the goal. Even the idea of going for help with “Anger Management” comes to actually mean, “Anger Elimination Therapy.” Bad news, though…eliminating anger will never be possible. Good news…we shouldn’t want to and don’t actually need to, either.
There is nothing inherently wrong with anger. It is an emotional experience like any other that we may encounter. In some circumstances, anger can be protective. It is, after all, a defensive emotion. It tends to emerge when we are protecting ourselves from hurt of some kind. A sort of emotional version of fight or flight. When we feel threatened we push back on the threat to distance ourselves from it. Sometimes, the motivating elements that come with this action oriented emotion are useful and necessary. We can be spurred on to do great things when motivated by righteous anger or anger directed at injustice. We can use the energy that flows through us when we feel upset to generate a positive change and leave unhealthy relationships, confront someone who is causing us pain or make a change in our own internal lives when we’ve simply “had enough.”
The problem with anger is really getting stuck in it. Imagine if your whole life was fight or flight; everything making you attack or run. It would be exhausting for you and destructive to the people and things around you. Thus, the goal is truly to find a way to acknowledge when we are angry and manage the emotion, not remove it. We are supposed to feel angry at times. Then we are supposed to move through it and be able to experience the other emotions that come with life.
Joy, love, connection.
God has modeled this pattern for us over and over again. In one of the most well known examples of Jesus’ anger, he enters the Temple in Jerusalem to see it being ill used. He becomes irate and demonstrates his anger both verbally and physically. But in the very the next verse, he is approached by those seeking to be healed and he does just that. He extends love and compassion to those who are hurting. (Matthew 21:12-14). He moves on to another emotion / another state of being. The anger and disappointment that he experienced did not suddenly leave him, it just didn’t dominate him, either.
He could control it, it never controlled Him.
That is the true task of Anger Management.
Article Written by: Melissa Baratta