In the Bible we are told, “Be angry and do not sin.” This means don’t allow your anger to spawn a choice that results in destructive behavior, essentially.
“Acting aggressively isn’t mentioned anywhere in the definition of anger. That’s because anger is not a behavior; it’s not the same as hostility, violence, or aggression. Those words describe what people do; anger describes how people feel.
While anger can activate aggressive behavior, it doesn’t always and doesn’t have to. For example, you can feel mad that someone cut you in line for show tickets without flipping them the finger.
You can also hurt someone without being angry at all. For example, people who commit terrible sex crimes can be perfectly cool and calculated in the way they stalk and harass their victims.”
This difference between anger and aggression is crucial. Anger is a feeling or emotion, that is a part of human makeup. Aggression is an action exercised by a person’s free will. When we recognize that, we can respect the emotion of anger even as we condemn the behavior of violence.
Like any other emotion, thought or feeling, anger must be brought captive to my thought/decision making process. If I do not, anger, like fear or any other feeling or emotion, can grip my mind and heart, and I may react in an aggressive way. In this instance, my anger has spawned aggression, revenge, violence, or any number of other behaviors that I am choosing to carry out.
But wait! Am I CHOOSING to act out? When I get angry I may feel like I am out of control, but I am not. I still have the ability to choose. If I take the thought or feeling captive I can actually say, ok, I feel angry right now, but is “retaliating” a healthy response? (Or any other choice.)This indicates the reality that I can indeed exercise, self-control.
Therein lies the difference between responding and reacting. If I react to all of the cognitive impetus that I experience in life, there is a good chance “fight or flight” will be my default mechanism when anger is sparked in me. If I am accustomed to scrutinizing my thoughts, feelings and emotions regularly, I can much more readily diffuse the anger by bringing objectivity into the equation.
The Psychology Today article continues:
“Anger is a valid and useful emotion
Emotions are big exclamation points that our brains hold up to get our attention when something important is happening, or when a problem needs to be solved. Fear warns us about danger, grief tells us to seek support, joy tells us that we should continue doing whatever it is that makes us feel good.
Anger is the same. It tells us that injustice is being enacted, or that we need to take action to ensure the survival of our body and our integrity.
People can steal, assault, cheat, bully, and oppress without an ounce of anger. But without anger, the victims would shrug and continue to endure injustice.
So, when you feel anger, that’s okay. It’s your brain’s way of keeping you safe. You can, and should, investigate whatever triggered your anger and use your wise mind to evaluate the facts and decide on the best actions. But whatever those turn out to be, the initial spark of anger is always allowed.”
You see, it’s up to us as to whether anger will be allowed to become a destructive, or in-structive force in our lives. It’s our choice, an act of the will. You can choose rightly if you discipline your thought life in healthy ways. Of course there are many other factors that may influence us as well; part trauma (triggers), temperament weaknesses, other factors that would need to be looked at with the help of a counselor or therapist.
EIS is here to help you in your growth journey.
Bill Hoffman/ Canva Pro/Adapted excerpts from Psychology Today