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5 Constructive Ways to Respond When Your Anger is Triggered

Listen to this episode of the Focus with Marlene Podcast:

Get caught up with all episodes in the Developing a New Focus series.

This is part 2 in my series, “Focus on Your Responses to Life.”
Part 1: Is Your First Response to Problems Reactive or Proactive?

Does your first response to conflict resolve that conflict or create more conflict?

When anger is our first response to everything that doesn’t go our way, the roots may lie in our childhood. Children who haven’t been taught to find appropriate ways to express anger often bottle it up inside.

Expressing anger as kids does not mean you are allowed to shout or act out. It means that you are taught constructive ways to deal with your emotions. When we nurse the belief that the only way to defend ourselves or to be heard is to use anger, we are in trouble.

Over time, untamed anger fuels resentment. Resentment becomes a “grievance story” that we repeat until it dominates our thinking. As resentment becomes our predominant attitude, we’re robbed of joy, pleasure, and peace.

Angry responses do not resolve conflicts. Venting or acting out might release some of anger’s energy in the short term, but it will not take away your anger.

5 things to consider when your anger is triggered

1. Recognize when you are feeling angry.

Denying or pushing it away will only cause it to resurface again. Ask yourself:

  • Why am I getting so angry?
  • Does the situation warrant that feeling?
  • What can I do – what is under my control and what isn’t?

2. Find a healthy way to release the immediate tension of anger.

Run. Go for a walk. Go to the gym and work out. Move until the anger energy is released or reduced.

3. Talk about it.

Find a supportive friend, pastor, trained therapist, or other nonjudgmental person who will listen as you share your feelings, give feedback for clarification, and validate what you are feeling. Oftentimes talking it through is sufficient. Coming to terms with senselessness, unfairness, and injustice can help us channel our energy in positive ways to make a better world.

4. Challenge and change your thinking.

While we need to talk about our anger, we also need to challenge and change our thinking about it. If our anger is directed at God, bring it to Him. Talk to Him.

Consider the Psalms. The Psalmists brought to God all their honest expressions of pain, anger, and questions. The Psalms reveal not only a loving God, but one who is compassionate and understands our foibles and frailties. So, talk to God, even if you are angry with Him. Tell Him how you feel and why. I believe you will be met with love, grace, understanding, and healing. It will also be a revealing and clarifying experience.

5. Plan the first thing you will do.

If your first response creates more conflict or an ongoing argument, ask yourself, “What is the first thing I’ll do to change that?”

It might be as simple as stopping, taking a deep breath, and letting go of the anger for a moment as you think of a more constructive way to respond.

3 things to remember about anger

  1. It is okay to be angry.
  2. It is NOT okay to hurt yourself, someone else, or anyone’s property.
  3. You are responsible for what you do with your anger.

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