In last week’s post we talked about the one question to make anger work for you:
“WHY am I feeling angry?”
Asking this simple question helps get to the root of anger, rather than just skim the surface. If we don’t get to the root of our angry feelings, they’ll just keep sprouting up and eventually choke out the beauty and love in our lives.
So when was the last time you got angry at someone or something? Do you have any idea what might have been behind your anger? As I mentioned in last week’s post, it was shame, humiliation, embarrassment and hurt that fueled my anger on the diving board.
Here’s a list of some of the feelings that often fuel anger: hurt
dashed hopes and dreams
pressure, stressed out
In other words, when people let us down, when things don’t work out the way we think they should, when we don’t get the respect we feel we deserve, we feel one or more of the emotions listed above. When that happens, we often turn to anger to protect those tender feelings.
Anger is like the warning light on the dashboard of your car telling you that something needs to be checked under the hood.
Your problem is not the warning light. Your problem is what’s going on under the hood. That’s where you need to look, and that takes courage.
It’s uncomfortable. It’s scary. But it’s the first step after anger lets us know something is wrong. For example, did we feel rejected? Betrayed? Was our pride hurt?
Pinpoint and target the root cause of your anger.
Then apply this practical 3-step tool that’s made a positive difference for me when dealing with anger and frustration. The next time you’re angry with someone try saying to them:
- “When ____________ (what happened),
- I felt ___________ (the root emotion).
- I would appreciate ______________.” (what we wish were different)
I might add that an important part of this equation is watching your tone and facial expression.Keep it kind…and try to work a smile in there somewhere. If you’re mean and frown, it’ll completely cancel out any good your words might’ve done!
Let me share a real life scenario. I lead a Bible study in the inner city of our town. For a while, it’s gotten on my last nerve that people are up and down, in and out, while I speak. It’s constant. It’s frustrating. I feel disrespected. Yet, I’ve never said anything about it.
In our Bible study, we’ve been exploring this same topic of anger. So a few weeks ago, I said to myself, let me give this a try.
“When people get up and walk out of the room repeatedly during the Bible study, I feel disrespected. I feel as if my time and preparation are of little value to you. It’s hard for me to keep my train of thought while there is constant movement in the room. I think it’s also a distraction for others who are trying to hear the lesson. I would appreciate it if everyone would visit the restroom before we begin. That way we can keep our focus on the lesson. Whadda ya say?”
(And then I smiled!)
When I finished, everyone nodded. A couple of people apologized, saying they didn’t realize it felt disrespectful to me. No one, and I mean no one, has been to the restroom in 4 weeks during Bible study. It’s been great! I wish I’d done this a long time ago!
This may seem like a silly example, but it reminds me that sometimes we put up with issues that are gnawing at us when, if we communicated them in this simple, respectful manner, we could be done with a few things.
Listen, I know it won’t work every time. Yes, there are crazy people who won’t respond appropriately. And perhaps we need discernment to know when to walk away, when it’s not our battle, when to just let it go, etc. But I encourage you to give this practical 3 step method a try.
What looks hard, uncomfortable and scary at the beginning can become liberating and life changing down the road!
A coupla questions to consider: How effective might these “I feel” statements be the next time you’re angry? Are you skeptical? Apprehensive? Why?
What’s the best that could happen? What’s the worst that could happen?
Do you have an example of what happened when you tried this? I’d love to hear from you!
Blending music and humor, 2014 Georgia Author of the Year Connie Carey inspires her audiences to view their challenges from a renewed perspective, Her book, Falling UP, offers healing, hope and a touch of humor for hard times. For booking info, visit www.conniecarey.com.