A few months ago, there was an incident inside an airplane called jetblue airline. Just as the plane landed, a steward named Steven Slater went into rage taking the microphone in the plane and started to vent out all his frustrations in words over the microphone. He then grabbed his bags and two cans of beers from the galley, popped the lever for the plane’s inflatable emergency chute, slid down and went home. Now this is not your regular angry man, this guy was in rage.
Now let’s talk about anger. What is anger? It is an emotional response that helps us correct something that we see as wrong. Anger will occur when:
- The lives of our loved ones are threatened
- Our personal belongings are ruined or stolen
- Our body or human rights are violated
- Our habits or lifestyle is undermined
- Our values and beliefs are degraded
- Our integrity and reputation are questioned
My father is a very kind man. He loves peace and always tries to pursue peace at all cost. But there was one incident that happened in his younger days that I know off. My mom had just married him and there was a man who kept bothering my mom. This man knew my dad’s schedule, so he would show up at home to bother my mom right after my dad left for work. Sure enough, my mom told my dad about this, and a few days later my dad purposely came home in mid-day hoping to find this man to confront him of his behavior. When he came home to find this man in the front gate, my dad didn’t say much word and just threw a nice punch to his face. I do believe peace is the best way, but this incident shows that anger can occur when our loved ones are being threatened. In cases like this, when rightfully done, anger can serve its purpose as a good protection.
I have a friend who collects books. She takes care of her books so well they are all in mint condition. She doesn’t appreciate her belongings being ruined nor stolen. I believe at different levels, all of us feel the same way. This friend of mine does not lend her books to anyone, and I doubt she will ever do that. She probably had an unpleasant experience about her belongings being ruined by others before.
Angered by having our bodies or human rights violated is an obvious thing. I don’t think I need to explain much about that, but what’s interesting is, even animal rights matters will trigger anger. I remember a while back, when the animal rights group from the united states complained about the Japanese fishing dolphins and eating them. Both sides felt anger. The Americans felt that the dolphins’ rights were violated. The Japanese felt that dolphins are just another type of fish and worth fishing and consuming, therefore the Americans should mind their own business.
We feel anger when our habits or lifestyle is undermined. We also don’t like it when our values and beliefs are degraded. We can often see people become real upset when arguing about values and beliefs. They can even yell at each other trying to convince the other party about their own belief system. Sometimes it can be about God or about certain theories that they perceive as correct. I had two friends who were best friends since high school, one day they argue badly about career values, well, long story short, they ended up offending each other with their angers, eventually ruined their friendship.
Integrity and reputation are also really important to us humans. When these two aspects of our life are violated, we will go into anger mode. This is what happened when gossips occur. Some people are bound to be angered by it. The same goes for labeling. Sometimes we can insensitively label someone negatively. We must be careful, because I believe we don’t want to be treated the same way.
Here are Anger’s many faces:
- Repressed Anger
- Suppressed Anger
- Expressive Anger
It is a passive aggression that is commonly practiced in Asian countries. The culture emphasizes on being well-mannered. So when people are upset, they have a tendency to repress the anger within, and try hard to act as if nothing is upsetting. But soon they will find out that they must somehow act out their repressed anger. Most likely in a safe environment where people could not see it. Home is the most common place repressed anger is being expressed. So a person may feel angered in a workplace, but he might pretend that he is not angry by repressing his anger, but once he gets home, he might take his anger out at his wife or children. This is the danger of repressing anger. Gossiping, criticizing, ignoring, and subtle sarcasm are also some examples of expressing passive aggressive behavior.
It is one level deeper than Repressed Anger. It is not just about being well-mannered in public, but it is an ideology that anger is wrong and bad. Therefore the person experiencing anger may go into denial. The person practicing suppressed anger is not acknowledging the anger because they think anger should not be a part of them because it is wrong. But as suppressed anger is practiced continuously, ailments and diseases will take their toll on these people. The most common condition is general depression that has no apparent cause.
At deeper level, paranoia and suicidal thoughts may appear. Sometimes we see this at church, where a person may be upset over certain issues with the church, but he suppresses his anger because his ideology says that being angry is wrong. Before you know it, this person who never dealt with his anger with the church suddenly stop coming to the church and just disappears from the community
Some people don’t repress nor suppress their anger. They have managed to be able to express their anger. However, there are two ways of expressing anger.
- Rage is one of them. It often is inappropriate. It can be in a form of threat, intimidation, or verbal abuse. There is even a term called rageholics for people who like to express their anger in ways that demean and violate the person they are addressing to. Just as what the jetblue steward did when he went into rage on the airplane when it landed. It is a dangerous behavior that puts other people’s wellbeing in jeopardy
- Assertiveness is the right way to go when dealing with anger. This is the appropriate anger. To be assertive is to stand your ground in a calm and collected manner and express what is right, or not right, without the rage. When we are being unfairly treated, we calmly bring out our facts in a clear manner that suggest confidence and self esteem on our part, and respect the esteem of the other person involved. It is a skill that needs to be learned.
For example: let’s say we have booked a hotel room via internet and clearly requested a non-smoking room. But when we get to the hotel to check in, the hotel staff assigns us a smoking room instead. Now this is a condition that will tickle the anger out of us. The assertive way to handle this kind of situation is to first calm ourselves down, we don’t need to repress or suppress our anger just for the sake of not being angry because it is ‘bad’, we also don’t need to get into rage and start shouting our throat out at the hotel staff, because that sure won’t do any good for our health. There’s a saying that when are angry for 5 minutes, our body’s immune system drops for 6 hours. But we should calmly explain our request for a non smoking room because it is what we need and it is when we have requested in the first place. Let’s say the hotel clerk is a very unhelpful person that he just responds with ignorance and say to us that smoking room is the only choice there is. By this time the rageholics would be at boiling point ready to crucify that clerk upside down. But the assertive way to continue handling this is to again repeat to the clerk that we need a non smoking room. Our tone should be confident and respectful to both parties yet still. Repeat this for 3 to 4 times, and if we still get no satisfying result, we can request in a clear manner to talk to the supervisor or the manager of the hotel. When we meet the supervisor or the manager, we can once again plead our case to get a non smoking room, perhaps we can suggest to have them upgrade to another type of room as long as it is non smoking.
Sure there is no guarantee we will be completely satisfied, we could end up getting no room that we initially asked for or we could be upgraded to a much better room. There is no guarantee of how the end result would be, but by exercising assertiveness, we have managed our anger well. We do not repress any unhealthy feelings inside and we do not go into unnecessary rage that benefits no one especially our self. This can work on most angry situations, but assertiveness needs to be learned
Awareness of people’s different personalities also helps very much when we deal with different individuals. There are basically 4 types of behaviors that people may have. Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance. Each of these behavior traits explains the strength and weaknesses of a person. By understanding this, we can have a higher tolerance when dealing with others. There are books about this that we can find in general book stores. I encourage you to learn the basics on this and I’m sure it will be benefit you in your attempt to manage your anger better.
Aside from all the knowledge and tips to manage our anger, let’s go back to the bible and see what it says about it. It is written in Ephesians 4:26 that “in your anger, do not sin,” the bible never says that we are not to be angry at all times, I believe anger to a certain level is understandable and even beneficial. It is an emotion that God has given to us. But don’t commit sin in the midst of our anger. Don’t hurt other people, don’t disrespect others or put them in danger with our anger.
The bible also teaches us that patience and self control are fruits of the Spirit. We can and must do our best to gain knowledge on managing anger. But remember, that patience and self control are God given fruits in our lives. We must yield to God, and ask the Holy Spirit to bless us with those fruits. Keep relying on God to help you through. For it is written that whoever asks shall receive.
I encourage you to do your best to manage your anger and lean on God at all times. I pray that as you read through this article, the Spirit of God touches you and blesses you in the name of Jesus.