Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Os Hillman on Understanding the Source of Anger

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. —Proverbs 29:11

The workplace can be a pressure-packed world. The demands that are often put on us can bring out things that we never knew were there. Sometimes we begin to think that the source of that pressure is to blame for our response to the pressure. It could be an event, a spouse, a boss, a client, a child, or even a driver who cuts us off in traffic.

I recall responding to a close friend one time, "If you had not done that, I would never have responded that way." Later I learned that this response had little truth to it. We all choose to get angry. No one else is to blame for our anger.

"The circumstances of life, the events of life, and the people around me in life, do not make me the way I am, but reveal the way I am" [Dr. Sam Peeples].

This simple quote has had a profound impact on how I view my anger now. Anger only reveals what is inside of me. I can't blame anyone but me for my response to a situation. I have learned that anger is only the symptom of something else that is going on inside of me. This quote now resides on my refrigerator door as a daily reminder of the truth about my response to life's situations.

It has been said that anger is like the warning panel on the dash of your car. It is the light that tells us something is going on under the hood and we need to find out what is the source of the problem. I discovered that the source of anger is often unmet expectations or personal rights. We believe we are entitled to a particular outcome to a situation. When this doesn't happen, it triggers something in us. At the core of this is fear, often a fear of failure or rejection, fear of what others think, fear of the unknown.

If you struggle with anger, ask God to reveal the source of that anger. Ask Him to heal you of any fears that may be the root of your anger. Ask God to help you take responsibility for your response to difficult situations.

1 comment:

Ronni said...

Very good. I used to be a total "reacter". I reacted to everything. I had to vent everything. I saw how much it just hurt people around me and I needed to find out what was going on in me. After God sending me people to help me walk through stuff (we all got stuff) I don't find myself reacting as much anymore. I do occasionally slip up (hey human here!) and have to re-examine where that came from. I think the biggest problem is tho, that as a church we expect people not to act out... not to react, so we treat them any way we want and then lay into them and shame them for reacting when its obvious we pushed some buttons. Yes, ultimately we are responsible for our reactions, but we also are responsible for not causing our brothers and sisters to stumble.

Oh, and give people more grace!