"Personally, I've tried many, many methods for dealing with anger over the years. And the best I've found is the approach of emuna (as you write so often), in that, out of love, God WANTS my child/spouse/neighbor/washing machine to behave a certain way. It's from Him, not them. So why should I get angry at them? Also, the knowledge that things are going right according to God's Plan. It has helped me a lot."
For as long as we can’t see ‘behind’ the person who’s hurting us, annoying us, inconveniencing us, or upsetting us in some way, it’s going to be very hard, and probably even impossible, to get over our natural angry reaction to these occurrences.
Most holistic health people can quote stats and facts about anger being bad for health until they’re blue in the face. But the real question is this: HOW do we get rid of that anger? HOW do we fight it off, or over-power it, or defuse it in a healthy way, when people really are doing horrible, upsetting and destructive things to us?
That’s really the crux of the matter.
For myself, this is how I try to respond to angry-making situations (which believe me, I seem to be having tons of experience with, at the moment):
- Try not to have a knee-jerk reaction (easier said than done, as the fight-or-flight response kicks in subconsciously and at lightening speed).
- Try to figure out if it’s possible and / or advisable either to run away from the issue, or fight it off, in some acceptable way. (When dealing with my own kids, initial running away to calm down is nearly always preferable to blowing up at them.)
- If I can’t run away or stand up for myself in some other way to defuse the situation, keep reminding myself that God is causing this to happen, and He’s in control, and it’s all for my best. (Which let me tell you, is REALLY hard work sometimes. But the more I repeat these things to myself, the calmer I instantly start to feel.)
- It helps to remind myself that everytime I hear myself being insulted and keep quiet, God counts that as a big deal. He knows that’s a big test, and so He counts it instead of another character-refining ordeal like getting a visit from the IRS or worse, your mother-in-law (for example.)
- After the fact, dissect what happened to see what I need to change, work on, improve, do differently etc – and the answer is always something unique.
For example, one time I’ll figure out that I actually need to work on my boundaries more with that person, so they can’t put me in the same situation again. Another time, I’ll figure out that I actually need to apologise, because I was in the wrong. Another time, it’ll be something super-simple like ‘eat enough, so you don’t get grumpy and exhausted’. Yet others, it’ll be something hugely profound like ‘that was so weird, it just has to be unfinished business from a past life’.
And so on, and so forth. But the key is to put God in the picture, and get Him involved, and to understand that nothing is happening randomly, or just because you happened to be friends with a few ‘Class A’ jerks.
Without that understanding, it’s so hard as to be impossible to NOT get angry at the people who twist the windscreen wipers off your brand new car just for kicks, to use just one recent example from my own life.
So to sum up: if we don’t have God in the picture, and if we’re not trying to internalize that everything that happens is just a Divine message for us to work on, change, acknowledge, or fix something, then overcoming negative character traits like anger is going to be really, really hard.