Turning Anger into Action

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#projectHealing: Turning Anger into Action


When six feet of water destroyed my home during Hurricane Katrina, there was much to be angry about. I was angry that this unfairly happened to me; I was angry that my life as I knew it had been yanked out from under me, and that I had to leave my wife and two small children two hours away when I travelled to work. Thankfully, we were adequately insured, but others around me were frustrated with contractors and government assistance. At times, I was angry and annoyed at those who just didn’t understand, even well intentioned folks who called to check on me… after a while I just couldn’t tell the story yet again. I could have made an entire list of those things that made me want to scream.

Nonetheless, I’m here to tell you that anger is not a bad emotion to have, and it’s one of the emotions typically produced by tragedy. Anger can serve as an alert or warning sign that something in your life needs attention. Suppressing these emotions can be damaging.

The key is to deal with the anger in a positive way. Here’s some advice to channel your anger into positive action.

Manage the stress in your life by finding balance.

Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel. –Eleanor Brown

Yes, it is true. Controlling your stress means taking care of yourself. Get back to a normal routine or establish one that works best for your new lifestyle. Make time for sleeping, eating well and exercise. Do those things that once brought you happiness and put you at ease. Know when it is time to take a break.

Find your calming strategy.

When you feel angry, take a moment to calm down using a strategy that works best for you.

• Pause for a moment.
• Take deep breaths.
• Walk away from the situation and come back to resolve when you feel more calm.
• Imagine yourself in a calm place like a beach.

Reframe the situation.

Sometimes we jump to conclusions about other’s motives without fully thinking through the situation. Reframe the situation to see the other person’s point of view and allow other explanations to be possible. Maybe the person’s intentions were not to make you angry and other factors created a problem.

Become a better problem solver.

“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” –Albert Einstein

The more time you spend understanding a problem, the more effective the solution will be. Dealing with tragedy can become overwhelming quickly with so much to do. It’s important to understand and identify the specific problem and break it down into smaller steps. Saying “I need to get my life back” is too vague. Instead say “I need to hire a contractor, pick out flooring and choose a paint color.” It’s much more specific and manageable.

Once you fully understand the problem, it will be easier to think about possible solutions.

Try following these 3 steps:

1. List all the solutions, even if you’re not sure they will work.
2. Talk with those important to the decision process.
3. Weigh your options and choose the best option (or combination of options) for you.

It’s ok to be angry. It’s natural. But uncontrolled and unchecked anger can produce self-defeating behavior. It can also lead to depression. If you are experiencing anger that is debilitating to your life or are experiencing repeated inappropriate outbursts, please see a healthcare provider. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength and of understanding yourself and your limitations and dealing with emotions in a healthy way.

2 Corinthians 8:12 (The Message Bible)
“Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t….”

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