“Fear’s job is to keep Riley safe, Anger’s job is to keep things fair”, explained Joy in one of my favorite movies, “Inside Out”.
This week in chapel we explored managing anger in relationships. As in the movie, there are times when anger gets a hold on all of us and we can feel like someone else is at the control of our brains, and it usually does not feel good. Anger receives a lot of bad press but it does have the important role of giving us the energy to “put things right”. The challenge is to harness that energy to act respectfully and constructively. There are three steps that can help us achieve that.
The first step is to gain some measure of control over the little red explosive person in charge. All of us have acted out our anger and have regretted it later; it is therefore important that we all learn what works best for us to regain control. Possible strategies discussed in chapel varied from concentrating on breathing, talking it through with someone who is a good listener, to doing something physical, like a walk or run. I have often thought that, like a breathaliser, there should be an “anger-liser” on every ‘send’ button!
The second step is to recognise what is the root of our anger. How many of us who are parents can arrive home and “get angry”? Our anger could be more about our bad day at work than the dishwasher not being emptied. Mrs Sell gave us a very personal story of how a secret kept can smolder anger for years, but once the secret is shared, the burden is lifted, and freedom and healing can then be enjoyed.
The third step is how to let anger go when the thing we believe is not fair cannot be fixed, is not in our control, or requires our forgiveness. Indiana Hansen provided a good image of our anger being strings that can pull us or hang down and drag us around, affecting all areas of our lives, when we need to just “let it go”. Mrs. Sell contin-ued with the story of Joseph and how he was able to put his anger aside and restore his relationship with the brothers who had treated him so unfairly.
I think Aristotle put it the best:
“Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way —that is not easy.”