In my previous blog (if you haven’t read it I would encourage you to go back and read it first), we discussed what it means to take ownership of our anger. We all get angry, and the first step towards understanding and surrendering our anger is to acknowledge we have it.
A question I often receive is, “Okay I am angry, but what if I get stuck there?” “How do I process anger or any emotion for that matter?”
The truth is, simply identifying that you are angry is a great challenge. As a therapist and minister, I have sat across from many people who simply cannot identify a feeling, let alone feelings they consider to be negative. Identifying feelings requires the ability to practice self-awareness.
Self-awareness is the knowledge and understanding of why you do the things that you do and the process of having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths and weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions.
In order to begin to practice self-awareness, we must be actively practicing stillness, silence, and reflectiveness. This is similar to time spent in prayer and bible reading, but it also requires active listening and observation.
David stated in the Psalms, “Search me, O God, and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (139:23-24, NASB)
Ask God to help you identify your anger.
When you spend time with God ask, but make sure to listen. This is a spiritual practice and discipline, one that you will only be able to do the more you practice.
Practice identifying feelings by simply beginning to make note of how you are feeling throughout the day.
Practicing this skill when you are not experiencing intense emotions will help you to be able to readily do this when you are experiencing intense emotions.
Journaling, or simply jotting down feelings that you experience, increases your awareness of your heart and encourages you to dig into what God might say through those observations.
When you note that you’re angry, it is important to ask yourself why you are angry.
Many times the first answer that comes to mind is what someone else said to us or what they did, but simply focusing on what they said or did does not help us understand what it means to us. We must take this deeper and go beyond what was said or the action that took place.
We must ask “why.” Why did what they said or what they did make me angry? How is that connected to other times in my life when I have felt angry?
What does being angry in this situation mean to me?
It can help to ask these questions of ourselves with a mentor or a counselor.
Jesus also taught us that we are to live in community with one another, therefore he has given us great resource in one another.
Finally, after a process of self-evaluation and revelation we can begin to surrender to Jesus’s work in our heart.
As He works in our heart He makes it possible for us to communicate lovingly and appropriately what our anger has shown us about ourselves.
If this process sounds lengthy and in depth, that is because IT IS. He has called us to become disciples, and to bear fruit. Both of those processes take place through a transformation of the heart from the inside out. This requires that we slow down and listen to what He has to say and what we observe about ourselves.