(A lot of what follows is based on stuff in my new book, Talk to God and Fix Your Health, out in the Fall, BH.)
So how can we really manager our anger, in a healthy way?
First, we need to acknowledge that we’re actually feeling angry, and stop pretending otherwise.
Second, we need to know WHY we’re getting angry, and WHO or WHAT is sparking it off.
(HINT: It's usually a feeling that we're being mistreated, ignored or hurt in some way by other people, including people we expect more or different from).
This article can also help to give you some ideas about who and what might be making you angry:
The 7 types of negative people and how they can affect your health.
Once we’ve started to got those pieces of the puzzle in place, the next question we need to explore is whether our anger is a reasonable response (ie, almost anyone in the same circumstance would feel anger, on some level), or unreasonable (ie, most people don’t go ballistic just because they didn’t get enough whipped cream on their coffee.)
By this point, we’ll probably be learning some pretty profound, and maybe even surprising, things about ourselves and our relationships with other people.
If we believe our anger to be a reasonable response: ie, someone hurt us badly, cheated us, deliberately let us down, etc, the next stage is to learn the lesson the anger is coming to teach us.
See this article for some clues: Why we need our negative emotions
Maybe, we need to stand up for ourselves more, stop being so trusting, have better boundaries in place with certain people? Maybe, our latest experience was part of a pattern of negative behaviour, and we’re getting angry because someone we believe is our meant to be caring for us and looking out for us is doing the exact opposite?
If we believe our anger is unreasonable – then we have to do some serious inner work to start working out why we’re chronically angry, and even the smallest things can set us off.
(This is a whole big subject by itself. There’s often some very painful childhood experiences, trauma and ‘inner child’ neglect occurring underneath chronic feelings of anger, and uncovering what’s really going on takes a lot of patience, determination, self-compassion and talking to God about it all.)
In this case, the lesson we need to learn is something about our own beliefs, experiences and reactions.
In either case, the last and final stage is to ask God to help you to let the anger go.
The good news is that once you’ve learnt the lesson any negative emotion like anger is coming to teach you, it often just disappears by itself, without any further effort.
To sum up:
1) Acknowledge them
2) Learn the lesson they’re trying to teach us
3) Let them go
And if we get stuck on any of these steps, we should talk to God about what’s going on, and ask Him to help us make the changes we need to make in order for our anger to become a thing of the past.