Anger is a strong, uncomfortable emotion many have misconceptions regarding. Anger is a normal emotion. You are created to feel anger and it’s okay. Anger motivates action. Once it motivates action, it is our choice how we express the prompting and it’s so important to distinguish between anger, aggression, and hostility. Anger is a sense of emotion ranging from the standard reaction of mild irritation to an intense response of fury and rage and if it felt too intensely, frequently, expressed inappropriately and associated with extreme physical/mental strain on the individual is when it becomes problematic, leading to aggression that is often-violent behavior causing harm or injury to another person or property. Anger improperly felt/displayed causes improper hostility, an attitude of judgement that then motivates aggressive behavior against something or someone. Our power of choice lies in between the stimulus and our response. Inviting anger as a visitor not a resident in our emotions will keep us from being uncontrolled, nasty, violent and messy in response to our outrage.
So, HOW do I feel anger and not sin (Ephesians 4:26)? Practice. Knowing yourself and making choices with your emotions instead of letting your emotions choose behavior for you. Learn your anger “spells” or time spent with the emotion of anger. There is always a lag point from the emotion of anger to the actions feeling anger produces. There are four essential signals of an anger-provoking event. These signs are divided into physical (physiological), cognitive (thought), emotional (feeling) and behavioral (act). Physical means how your body responds to anger (e.g. increased heart rate, flushed face, hot feeling, chest tightness, and boiling sensation) and emotional cues, your attitude to anger (e.g. expressing fear, hurt, jealousy, disrespect), and cognitive signals indicate what you think in response to anger (e.g. conveying hostile self-talk, images of aggression and revenge).Behavioral cues are your reaction to anger (e.g. making fists clench, raise voice tone, and stare looking (mean mugging). Recognize and identify what, who, when you’re angry and measure it by degrees of 1-10. 1 being slightly annoyed to 10 being capable of aggression and violence. When triggered activate your own individually monitored control plan:
1. Timeouts: several methods that work are relaxation,conversing with a friend (someone you trust) and the thought to stop- stop means cease all motion. STOP EVERYTHING in motion, which includes speaking/conversation, driving, thinking, just stop and self-soothe. It’s important that you know yourself and your own individual aggression cycle (escalation-explosive-post-explosive phases).
2. Preventive strategies: a regular exercise program, self soothing such as deep breathing, counting, positive affirmation phrases. Personally, I’ve learned this works best for me to express and prevent feelings of anger. I exercise good habits and self control best by preventing trigger episodes of anger and tightly controlling whenever I find myself angry
3. Changing irrational beliefs by using the A-B-C-D model (activating system- realistically describe the event/trigger without fantastical thinking or exaggeration, believing system-what you will tell yourself/others about the event; consequence system-your self-talk about what will happen if you act from your emotions; disputing system-question the emotion, belief behind it and expectations of others and circumstances)
4. Self Awareness- Learning and knowing your own individual aggression cycle (escalation-explosive-post-explosive phases) will keep you from problematic responses to the emotion of anger and aids your developing the learned behavior of conflict resolution model to express anger with an assertive not reactive expression of anger.
Always question what makes you weak-willed, lacking self control. Always explore the primary feelings beneath anger and learn to use all anger as a stimulus to POSITIVE ACTION/BEHAVIOR.
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