Processing Through Anger

This is a hard topic to write about because no one likes to face or think about our own anger or negativity.  I grew up around family members who had a tendency to have angry outbursts. Part of me still feels very traumatized by these episodes. Never did I think that I could also lose control like them. I understand that feeling angry itself is not a sin. Even Jesus was angry on many occasions. However, I am still responsible for my actions and words when I’m angry.  A while back, there were a few occasions where I lost control in anger and said some hurtful things to loved ones. Someone finally confronted me about my unacceptable behavior. It was then I had to acknowledge to myself about the deep frustrations I’ve been experiencing.

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When I finally stopped to take a good look at what I was really angry about, I was surprised to find some deep hurts and disappointments hiding behind the feelings.  I’ve heard many counselor friends say that anger is a “secondary emotion.” What this means is that anger, as an emotion, is usually triggered by something deeper. In my case, I was experiencing some deep disappointments in a close relationship. There wasn’t anyone at fault, but simply that this person could not meet my expectations anymore. Like everything else in life, our relationship have also changed with the passing of time.  Unknowingly, I clung unto my old expectations and was deeply wounded when my expectations were not met. I tried to change the dynamics of the relationship through my outburst in anger. Each failed attempt only deepened my frustration, and my negativity overflowed into other areas of my life.

Months of frustration gave way to clarity in one afternoon. I love it when I can finally make sense of my emotions. It’s as if a heavy yoke has suddenly lifted. That’s the funny thing about emotions.  Once they are acknowledged and understood, they dissipate. Before that happens, any attempts at repression or distraction only intensifies them. Once my frustrations went away, I felt a deep sadness as a result of my disappointments. I’m grateful for the comfort of the Holy Spirit in times like these. I was reminded again that people are limited beings.  Our friends, family, and even our mates are meant to be a blessing to our lives, but they are also made of dust. I was seeking comfort and guidance from someone who simply couldn’t provide them for me anymore, not in the way I wanted. I had to let go of my expectations in that relationship, and look to God to fill that void.

That was my moment of awakening, and I grieved. It sure felt like death at the time. But only after death, can there be a resurrection. With the intense emotions now out of the way, I can finally see this person clearly as who they are now, not who I wished them to be. And our relationship can now continue to grow in a brand new way.

When I started to pray about my issues with anger, I thought God would simply answer by helping me to have better self-control. I should have known that things were never as simple as I imagined them to be. Nevertheless, I am more than grateful. What began as a focus on the negativity in my life turned into a healing experience.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that I no longer feel frustrated or angry anymore. Rather, I’ve become more aware of when I am angry or flustered. Usually, it’s when I am physically tired or feel like I’m stuck in a situation with no way out. Even when I do end up snapping at people, soon after, I know I’ll have to do my “homework,” and sort out what’s going on inside.  Spending the time and effort to process through my negativity actually helped to diffuse and normalize the relationships most severely affected by my angry outbursts. This is definitely an ongoing process, but when I take responsibility of my own emotions and process through them, I can keep my anger and negativity from exploding and affecting those around me.

Looking back at my family history, I can see that we are a group of very passionate people. While our intense emotion worked for us in creative arenas and pushing through hardships, they have also caused us many heartaches. As I learn and understand more about my feelings, these emotion ceased to be the faceless monsters hiding in the shadows of my heart. Emotion, across all spectrum, is an intricate part of being human. The more I acknowledge and embrace them, the more I am aware of my true self. It may feel intimidating at first to try and process through emotions such as anger. However, when I’m able to see things from a divine perspective, even my anger led to a healing experience. Although we each have our own journey, I invite you to join me next time you feel frustrated or angry. Take a few minutes to be honest with the bubbling frustrations, and express them verbally or through writing, and see where the journey may lead you.

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